Myriam Darmoni recently took part in a fascinating conference about Israelis – Palestinians and others. The conference organizers are part of the inter-faith forum. The conference took place at the St. Peter in Gallicantu church in the Silwan neighborhood of Jerusalem (see picture).

Most of the participants, Palestinians, Israelis and Europeans used Zoom to connect as is the norm in these Corona days. The effort was worth it despite communication and translation obstacles. Myriam was happy with the number of speakers from different organizations.

Can peace be reimagined together? This was the question that the conference organizers directed to the Israeli and Palestinian experts and activists.

Myriam’s five takeaways from the inter-faith peace forum:

  1. Despite the tense mood, the Palestinian and Israeli civilian associations together with European partners continue to try to advance peace. This is a worthy goal despite having no media coverage.
  2. The Israeli associations trying to promote peace and shared living do this in three different ways: the human route (initiating meetings between Israelis and Palestinians in order to create human bridges); Think tanks that offer creative solutions; reports of human rights violations of Palestinians in the West Bank. These are all drops in the sea – more in the area of witnessing than making changes.
  3. Israeli public opinion can be divided into three:
    • Those supporting a territorial solution for peace through negotiations between Israelis and Palestinians.
    • Those opposed to a territorial solution for peace but interested in advancing new normalization channels with Arab countries disregarding the Palestinian question.
    • Those who are uncertain how to solve the Israeli-Arab conflict.
  4. If there’s no formal diplomacy, all’s that’s left is public diplomacy – there should be Palestinian and Israeli voices declaring that Israel and Palestinian Authority demands are legitimate. Recognizing the legitimacy of both sides of the conflict is a necessary condition for a peace discourse.
  5. Religion isn’t a problem in peacemaking, it could actually be an advantage. As seen when spiritual leaders from all religions advocate moderation thus preventing needless deaths of innocents.

These are the organization that took part in the conference; the Israeli Palestinian Bereaved Families for Peace forum, Roots, Kids4peace, One Heart for Peace, Breaking the Silence, Combatants for Peace, allmep, the Israeli Peace NGO Forum. Many religious leaders participated, including Rabbi Melchior and Father Emile Shoufani.

Please take a look at Myriam’s pictures from the conference